Writing Books/book


Dear Catherine,
  I am writing my memoirs from the 60ís and want to understand a few things about writing a book before I get too deep into it.  I recently found notes that I put down after I got out of the navy in the early 70ís and they were way to funny not to compile into a book.
1.    What is the average number of words I should work around for a 250 page book?
2.   What font and font size should I use?
3.   I want to double space.  Is that a problem?
4.   I am having a couple friends reviewing the pages as I draft them.  Too risky?
5.   As my writing is not what it used to be, what is the best way to make it more colorful, readable, and marketable once my 1st draft is done?
6.   And of course, what is the best way to market it?

Catherine, it also sounds like you might be helpful down the road when i might need someone to do some editing?

Thanks, Dick Schlueter
Richard Schlueter
Senior Manufacturing Engineer
Ikonisys, Inc.
Five Science Park
New Haven, CT 06511
Ph: (203) 776-0791 ext. 210
Fax: (203) 776-0795

Dear Richard,

Thank you for writing.

1. For a 250-page book, that comes to about 39,000 words, give or take a few thousand -- but that's the ballpark.

2. Use Times New Roman typeface with a 12-pt. size (or 13-point, actually, which is just a little easier to read).

3. You MUST double space the entire manusript. Editors will toss out anything that is not double-spaced.

4. Have as many friends as you like review your work; just ask them to be unflinchingly honest -- otherwise, it's a waste of your time and theirs.

5. After your first draft, which should just be a matter of getting the story line down on paper (or the screen, as it is these days), simply go back through a couple of times, only when the mood hits you, and "color it up" with adjectives and more details -- these things will come to you later, and the more you re-read your work, the more you will be able to recall and add to the manuscript, etc.

Also, do not edit yourself as you go -- if you feel that you're beginning to do that, just say, "knock it off," and keep going -- the point is, you must get the husk, or the basic outline down first -- after that, it gets easier, and you'll feel more certain and precise about your edits.

5a. Hire a good, seasoned copy editor/proofreader. Many very good professionals will do this work for around $400-$600 -- check out sites such as www.elance.com and www.guru.com. I have used both in the past, and I recommend them highly.

You will want to review several proposals before you entrust your manuscript to someone; it's both a professional and a personal, "instinctual" process on your part, i.e., choosing the right person for the job. Choose someone who just "feels right" and looks good on paper, as well.

6. Marketing these days isn't what it was even 10 years ago; we are very computer-oriented today, and many books are sold online via several "e-book" publishers and other, similar outfits -- however, standard book publishing does still exist, thankfully(!) and before submitting your work to anyone, you will need to write a good query letter, explaining in two paragraphs or fewer both why your book stands out from the rest and, at the same time, how it is similar to other, current best-sellers.

Also, in this same letter, you must ask for the publishers' permission to send the first three or four chapters of your book (to which they will likely be amenable, if you've "sold" them on those two major points).

You may also wish to work with an agent, who will do all of this work for you, but you have to sell yourself and your manuscript to them, as well -- still, it does take a lot of the "wheeling and dealing" off of your shoulders, yet the agents will extract a profit, usually 20 percent, from the eventual sale (and future proceeds) of the book.

I would be happy to help you with this project when you feel you are at the "I need a copy editor!" point -- just send me a heads-up via this site here at allexperts, and we can work out something, or visit the previous sites to examine other professionals' backgrounds, as well --

Good luck, and thanks again for writing.

All Best,
Catherine Van Herrin  

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Catherine Van Herrin


I am an American-born, native English speaker with a BA in English and more than 26 years of professional editing, writing, and proofreading experience. I have edited several books and book-length manuscripts. References and titles available upon request.

For further work or assistance with larger projects, see my profile here, with 190 excellent reviews: WordChannel Professional Reviews, Ratings

I can use British-English or American-English, and I am very familiar with Chicago and AP style.


More than 26 years' U.S. publishing industry experience, editorial (print). I provide crystal-clear, clean grammar; strict attention to style, consistency, flow, logic, accuracy, and spelling, and I work quickly and efficiently.

I do not format or provide technical assistance in publishing books. I use MS Word only.

If I can help you further, contact me at the website above (create a job request) or write to me at ceg33@myway.com. My rate is $0.008 per word. Send requests/inquiries to ceg33@myway.com. I accept currency only through PayPal, with 50% of the total at project initiation; the balance is due upon project completion.

Editorial Freelancers' Association, USA

AA, Liberal Arts, Anderson College, Anderson, South Carolina. BA, English, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Post-graduate concentration: Post-war Irish poetry and early 18th century English fiction, Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas.

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I have worked with authors in the UK, Canada, the US, and several other countries. References and titles available on request.

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